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Michigan First With A Law That Could Outlaw VPNs 554

Posted by timothy
from the ban-dihydrogen-monoxide-before-it's-too-late dept.
zaren writes "Holy frell, Taco, we're gonna be criminals! I was checking out Freedom to Tinker after reading the posting about that multi-state anti-VPN-style legislation, and I saw a new posting that says that Michigan has ALREADY passed such legislation, and it goes into effect on MONDAY, MARCH 31, 2003 . Guess I better tighten down the base station and batten down the hatches..."
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Michigan First With A Law That Could Outlaw VPNs

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  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by JanusFury (452699) <kevin...gadd@@@gmail...com> on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:33AM (#5625398) Homepage Journal
    Michigan residents being arrested on april fools' day because of a law that's a joke.
  • by Tuxinatorium (463682) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:34AM (#5625400) Homepage
    (b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service. What were legislators smoking when they wrote that clause? That's so ridiculously overbroad that it could even be interpreted to make it illegal to call someone from a payphone without telling them where you are.
    • by rela (531062) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:37AM (#5625408) Journal
      What were legislators smoking when they wrote that clause?

      I don't know, but whatever it is, I want some! It must be a REALLY good trip.

    • by Subcarrier (262294) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:05AM (#5625477)
      (b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service.

      Apparently it is legal to have a concealed weapon, but having a concealed cell phone or disabling caller ID violates the law.
      • badly drafted law? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Andy_R (114137)
        There may be a get-out here - if the parent post is giving the exact wording, it is the origin or destination of the *service*, not the telecommunication itself that can't be concealed. This means you can conceal your cell phone, but you can't conceal which teleco you bought it from.
      • by pi_rules (123171) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @01:13PM (#5626893)
        Apparently it is legal to have a concealed weapon, but having a concealed cell phone or disabling caller ID violates the law.

        I'll bite. I presume you're making a reference to Michigan relaxing it's handling of permits to Carry a Concealed Weapon (CCW) that occured about a year and a half ago from today. The media around here wasn't too for the idea, and they made it sound like every idiot out there could get one. I'm sure you looked up the legal rules behind getting one if this matter concerns you, but I'll repeat some of them here for other Slashdotter's that might not be from Michigan:
        • You must be 21 years old.
        • You must have a clean bill of mental health.
        • You must complete an 8 hour pistol safety course.
        • You must provide every adress you've lived at in the last 8 years.
        • You must be fingerprinted, on your dime.
        • You must provide them a photo with proper dimensions for your license.
        • You must have not commied a misdemeanor in the past 3 years.*
        • And there's a list of crimes that you cannot have commited in the last 8 years.


        Once you meet all this criteria, you're subjected to a 30-90 day waiting period while they evaluate you, and before approval you must appear in front of a board so they can take a look at you and make sure you're not a total nut that talks to himself.

        Now, my asterik after the 3 year misdemeanor thing. This means any type of misdemeanor, you know, like an expired license plate, fishing without a proper license (mistakes happen), getting caught with a beer when you're 20 years old.

        On top of that, there's a slew of places that you cannot take one into. Namely schools (where they're probably needed most), any establishment that serves alcohol (Pizza Hut, Red Lobster), college classrooms or dorms, and religious worship buildings (unless you have permission). You can carry it to school though, if you stay in your car, and if the child you're dropping off is your own blood child. You can't drop off your step kids though, because people that drop off step kids at school are more likely to pull a gun and start firing that people dropping off their blood children. Or something.

        Ah, and to go along with that rule about not taking it anywhere alcohol is served, you can't carry if you've got a BAC at or over 0.02 percent. That's less than a single beer. Come home from work still strapped, have a beer, and then take out the garbage and you'd better remember to remove your weapon before you step out of the house. You're in violation of the law if you don't. Wonderful.

        So, if you really think Michigan's full of a bunch of gun toting conservatives you're wrong. It's full of a bunch of liberals who actually tightened the restricions on a CCW while making it look like every nutjob in Michigan could carry a pistol just to scare the snot out of people.

        One more point, there's another segment of the population that can carry a gun: criminals. They don't have any of the restrictions the law abiding population does though. Nice that we gave them a list of places where they know good people CAN'T have guns now, isn't it?

    • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:25AM (#5625518) Journal
      You left out the comma:

      What, were they thinking???


      The answer, of course, is "no!"

    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @06:52AM (#5625775) Journal
      Text of the e-mail I just sent to the Michigan AG's office:

      ***
      Subject: Questions on Michigan law, section 750.540c.amended

      This new law, due to take effect on Monday, Mar 31, 2003 (likely the day this is read) has brought some concern to those of us who are technically minded. The main issue stems from this portion:

      (1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device or assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise a telecommunications device intending to use those devices or to allow the devices to be used to do any of the following or knowing or having reason to know that the devices are intended to be used to do any of the following: ...
      (b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service.

      This would seem to make illegal any hardware and software designed to make use of such technologies as NAT (Network Address Translation), which is used to allow multiple computers or other devices to access a single connection to the Internet. Specifically, the ISP will see only the information about the router, which, as a consequence of the technology, blocks any information about the original computer sending the transmission.

      Another portion reads thusly:

      (2) A person shall not modify, alter, program, or reprogram a telecommunications access device for the purposes described in subsection (1).

      This would seem to make illegal a feature on many routers that allows a device on the outside of the private network to see a MAC address that is not the true address of the router, but rather one that matches a network card of a computer behind the router. This allows the router to be used in cases where an ISP uses the MAC address as a security feature to prevent unauthorized access to its network. It would seem that use of this feature could be combined with the above concern to result in a doubling of the penalty.

      Because of the popularity of these technologies, my reading of the law would make many Michigan residents into potential criminals, and could unfairly force them into paying more for additional connections to their ISP if the ISP chooses to forbid NATs and then proceed to systematically hunt down those that would use NATs.

      Is this understanding of the law as written correct in letter if not in spirit? Can you provide any information on how the Attorney General's office plans to advise the various district attorneys on conditions under which violations of this law should be pursued? For example, could an ISP demand criminal charges be brought against someone who has used NAT technologies on its network? There is a large technical community that is now worried about this.

      Thank you for your time.
      ***

      I will post any response I get from them.
      • you got it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zogger (617870) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @08:59AM (#5625988) Homepage Journal
        You got it. You need to read this legislation in the light of all the other legislation out there, signed into law or proposed. A Police State needs for everyone to be a criminal on paper, to have that potential,to be able to use that against them. Look at oregons proposed policial demonstration law. Walk in the street in a demonstration, you are facing 25 years to life. Use a normal router, with how it normally works, you are a criminal. Go into patriot act 1 and now 2, which they are migrating to different other bills to get it passed. Misdemeanors can be classed as supporting terrorism. You really don't want to be classed as a terrorist. You can become an un-person very quickly, and it wouldn't be in there if they weren't planning on using it, even more extensively than they are now. The gestalt with computers in general is that computers allow anonymous and semi anonymous and easy communications for the average person. Police States don't like that.

        This is REAL stuff in all our faces. You can't keep up with it now,laws, laws,laws and more new laws, daily. It's at the federal level and all the state levels, assaults against born-with rights, just being a normal person, are fully underway, it's not theoretical or tin foil hat. This article is an example of just another one. Add 'em all up. Pretty spooky.

        Thanks for sending that letter, looking forward to see what they say, if you get a credible response.
        • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @10:45AM (#5626311) Journal
          There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

          Thus, making everyone subject to blackmail by the state--"obey our every command, or we'll find something bad you've done and punish you. Bow before Zod!"
      • by JWhitlock (201845) <John-Whitlock@@@ieee...org> on Sunday March 30, 2003 @10:19AM (#5626210)
        You forgot one important fact:

        Most Michigan businesses (and probably most government offices) use NAT or proxy servers for their internet connections. I believe a zealous prosecutor could interpret proxy servers as hiding the specifics of the computer that is making the requests for connections.

        Thus, just about every person with internet access at work is breaking Michigan law, under one interpretation. Including the AG that you are emailing.

        As long as you are sending long and technical emails to the AG, why not ask if a spammer who fakes his headers is breaking the law...

        • by FeloniousPunk (591389) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @11:18AM (#5626416)
          Most Michigan businesses (and probably most government offices) use NAT or proxy servers for their internet connections. I believe a zealous prosecutor could interpret proxy servers as hiding the specifics of the computer that is making the requests for connections.
          Yep. And "most government offices" includes Federal government, like say the Department of the Navy, for whom I'm contracting. We routinely use VPN and NAT; in fact we need VPN for personnel on travel to connect to our network and do certain mission essential tasks. I can only imagine the scene when some state AG and the ISP he's working for decides to take down the Navy.
          You know that neither the legislators nor the AGs have any clue what VPNs are or what NAT is, which is why they agree to this crap in the first place. These lawmakers and lawyers are the typical sort of people who hardly know where to begin when turning on their PCs yet they are making laws governing technology they know nothing about. Telcos/ISPs just shove a proposal under their noses, tell them it'll be good for the state, and they sign and try to pass it.
          I was thinking about this last night before bed and I thought, "Well, it'll get appealed and some judge will finally shoot the damn thing down once it comes out just how ignorant this legislation is," which I think will probably happen, but that is problematic in its own right. Legislatures firing off ill-considered laws only to have those laws thrown out in judicial review is a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common. The net result of this is that the democratic process is delegitimized thanks to incompetent legislators and people come to rely on unelected wise men to see that society still functions. I don't think that legislators take their jobs seriously anymore - they just try to see what the courts will let them get away with.
        • I'm sure the legislators never meant this to have an effect on business, only citizens. No doubt there'll be ammendments to allow business to use NAT and proxy.

          I suspect that people are also being overly literal in their interpretation of this. Even if I run NAT or proxy at home, it doesn't disguise the fact that the traffic came from my network. It only hides my internal details, but not my ultimate responsibility.

          Still, even by my more relaxed definition, VPN and any anonymizers would be problems.
    • by gnp (47243) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @07:42AM (#5625855)
      Reading section 219a.amended for the definition of telecommunications services makes me think that this doesn't prevent VPNs. I think the telecom service providers cannot conceal their physical link ends, but I don't see where anyone using those links to operate a VPN is required to do anything special...
  • someone would get a nice little pile of evidence against these lawmakers and policy setters to prove that they are doing exactly the opposite of what they preach. For these anti-vpn people as well as the **AA's... Wouldnt it be marvelous just to get the specs on the no-vpn guy's "special connection" from his house in the hills to the office. oh crap, its a vpn connection... oooops... Imagine Hillary Rosen with an armload of bootleg cd's. I wonder if she has a burner in her pc. or 4, because its a 40x, and w
  • WTF?! I can't rip CDs to MP3s anymore and now it's illegal to use a VPN?

    Honestly, I'm starting to feel guilty as soon as I start using a PC. I must be breaking some law as soon as I sit down.

    It's about time for the otherwise useless ACLU to start some legal action. Finally, they'll have something to pursue that's worthy of their time.
    • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:09AM (#5625621) Homepage

      Today the RIAA announced it was pushing for legislation that made the use of chairs illegal

      "Pirates sit down to make these illegal copies that are destroying society" said an RIAA spokesperson "This is all about making it uncomfortable for the pirates"

      When questioned as to the many valid uses of chairs the spokesperson replied "Sure this will have a minor effect on some people, but isn't that worth it to protect the American way of life and ensure the success of democracy that rides on the music and movie industries, what are you some sort of Communist or one of the Al Q'uada people.... guards arrest this person"
  • by canthusus (463707) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:43AM (#5625423)
    See http://www.michiganlegislature.org/mileg.asp?page= getObject&objName=mcl-750-335-amended [michiganlegislature.org]
    ***** 750.335.amended THIS AMENDED SECTION IS EFFECTIVE MARCH 31, 2003 *****


    750.335.amended Lewd and lascivious cohabitation and gross lewdness.
    Sec. 335.

    Any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together, and any man or woman, married or unmarried, who is guilty of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or a fine of not more than $1,000.00. No prosecution shall be commenced under this section after 1 year from the time of committing the offense.

    History: 1931, Act 328, Eff. Sept. 18, 1931 ;--CL 1948, 750.335 ;--Am. 1952, Act 73, Eff. Sept. 18, 1952 ;--Am. 2002, Act 672, Eff. Mar. 31, 2003 .

    This is the amended version, newly revised, not some ancient statute they've never gotten round to changing. What did they change from last time? They doubled the fine.

    Michigan doesn't seem to have made it to the 21st century yet.

    • Any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together

      I cohabited with a woman from 1990 to 1994 in Michigan. Didn't get arrested. The police even visited once after one of our cars had been broken into. It didn't occur to them to slap us in cuffs while they stood around in our apartment writing up the report.

      I have no idea what lewd or lascivious means in terms of cohabitation. Nether do the police or the courts. What they do know is that pro
      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:24AM (#5625636)
        The point is not whether it would stand up in court, the point is that it is a form of legalized harrassment. If the cops, or anyone else in the law enforcement power structure, doesn't like you for any reason valid or not, they have just one more tool to fuck you over with impunity.

        Sometimes just calling you a terrorist is more trouble than its worth, probably gets the FBI and the Dept of the Fatherland involved which might actually question a few too many baseless accusations. This law just keeps their options open.
  • FINALLY! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pyrote (151588) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:48AM (#5625434) Journal
    Finally Microsoft windows is illegal!!!!

    Any web browser can be used to access a proxy server making All web browsers illegal in Michigan. Since IE is so integrated into the software (that it can't possibly be removed), it makes all windows OS's illegal!

    Of course this applies to all linux browsers, but we can remove those.

    Ahh yes, the crap is piling up, and it aint the dairy cows.
  • Taking it to the extreme, this means that spammers could sue you now.

    Hey, we didn't know Blob Slob had that e-mail address, and we sure as hell didn't mean to make him that penis enlargement offer!

    Another step in the right direction.(not)

  • by Boss, Pointy Haired (537010) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:48AM (#5625437)
    Every IP packet I pass through my ISP contains a source and destination IP address.

    What else do they need to know?

    "Your honour, at what layer of the OSI Network Layer model is this bill to be enforced?"

    "Er, case dismissed."
    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:57AM (#5625460)
      Every IP packet I pass through my ISP contains a source and destination IP address.
      What else do they need to know?


      Sec. 540c.
      (1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device or assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise a telecommunications device intending to use those devices or to allow the devices to be used to do any of the following or knowing or having reason to know that the devices are intended to be used to do any of the following:
      (a) Obtain or attempt to obtain a telecommunications service with the intent to avoid or aid or abet or cause another person to avoid any lawful charge for the telecommunications service in violation of section 219a.
      (b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service.
      (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, intercept, or facilitate the receipt, disruption, decryption, transmission, retransmission, acquisition, or interception of any telecommunications service without the express authority or actual consent of the telecommunications service provider.

      The rest of the bill appears to provide support and procedural infrastructure for the section above.

      Sorry.

      • by Tailhook (98486) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:35AM (#5625550)
        In response to the posters point you quote the law, specifically that section labeled (c). What does that have to do with his point? His ISP provides IP service. He sends and receives packets via that service. Every damn one has a source and a destination. At what point is he in violation of the section you highlighted?

        He violates no law, including this one, operating VPN tunnels via his ISP. He has the right to send and receive IP traffic. The law mentions nothing about the content of the traffic he sends or receives. Presumably he has permission from whoever is at the other end of the VPN to use it.

        You, and the rest of you hypersensitive zealots, need to do better than highlighting some piece of legislation to make your point. It is plainly obvious to me that NAT, VPN, SSL, SSH, HTTP proxies or any of the other mechanisms you folks claim will be made illegal by this law are simply not.

        But have your fun. It's what you're all about...
        • by The AtomicPunk (450829) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @08:10AM (#5625893)
          You might be right...

          but what makes you think the isp, cops, judge, or jury would comprehend that ?
        • You, and the rest of [the readers I respect here], need to do better than highlighting some piece of legislation to make your point. It is plainly obvious to me that NAT, VPN, SSL, SSH, HTTP proxies or any of the other mechanisms you folks claim will be made illegal by this law are simply not. But have your fun. It's what you're all about...

          Once the DMCA passed it became obvious that law makers actually ARE perpetrating the insane. Rights are destroyed when people hear about it happening and just hit t

      • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:38AM (#5625560) Journal
        "Hi, this is Mike. You remember me from yesterday? Yeah, well, I was wondering if I could "facilitate the recipt" of another couple of packets today. I was kinda thinking about maybe checking the weather."

        "Kid, I'm giving you express authority to send you all the packets you want. Get the hell off the support line." ...

        "Hi, this is Bob. I was wondering if I could decrypt something...I was thinking about buying a CD for my sister using https. Also, I..."

        "Blanket approval. Go for it."
      • by djrogers (153854) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:13AM (#5625624)

        (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, intercept, or facilitate the receipt, disruption, decryption, transmission, retransmission, acquisition, or interception of any telecommunications service without the express authority or actual consent of the telecommunications service provider.


        Well, since VPN'd packets are encrypted before hitting the 'telecommunications service provider' network, decrypting it wouldn't be illegal under this law (as long as it's intended for you that is - the intercept clause would ensure that).

        There's nothing here saying that anything has to be transmitted in the clear, and all your service provider is responsible for is shuttling packets - encrypted or no. Don't mess with that process, and you won't be breaking the law.
        • Actually, if they take your enlightened viewpoint, there is no problem. But I think they will be inclined to view the provider of the IP layer as also a provider of services within all application layers above it. Since this means your cable company can charge you a higher for VPN, I think it's at least possible that the law might be interpreted that way.

      • (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, intercept, or facilitate the receipt, disruption, decryption, transmission, retransmission, acquisition, or interception of any telecommunications service without the express authority or actual consent of the telecommunications service provider.
        --

        With that wording i also expect that all cordless phone would be illegal as it is in fact retransmitting your phone line. Also illegal would be those UHF transmitters you can use to watch tv in the
    • by pla (258480)
      Every IP packet I pass through my ISP contains a source and destination IP address.

      More importantly, define "source" and "destination".

      This just means that, from now on, I "intend" every packet going through my NAT box to actually go to or come from that box. The fact that my NAT box has to talk to the outside world to serve that data doesn't matter, since the ISP can fully well see that part of the transaction.


      Or, to put it another way...

      I consider my ISP as nothing more than the "communication
  • by t0ny (590331)
    this story reminds me of last year, when Greece had a country-wide ban on Video Games. funny stuff.
  • Not one but two !!! (Score:5, Informative)

    by mritunjai (518932) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:51AM (#5625445) Homepage
    (Yes I did RTFA)

    This law has not one but two offensive clauses-

    1(b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service.

    1 (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, intercept, or facilitate the receipt, disruption, decryption, transmission, retransmission, acquisition, or interception of any telecommunications service without the express authority or actual consent of the telecommunications service provider.

    While 1(b) is probably the most obnoxious clause, 1(c) is not far behind... it makes it a "felony" to eg. hook two televisions on single cable connection and even make it a felony offense to put NAT boxen !! At our dorm, for World cup we put a computer with TV tuner card connected to cable connection and then used it to stream the transmission for people to watch in their rooms... HELL now we'll be criminals (and that too 'felony'!!) for that...

    Fuck.

    Who said "America- land of free" must now be turning in graves.
    • In my eyes, this part also makes the use of TV Tuner and capture cards not provided to you by the cable company illegal.

      1 (c) To receive, disrupt, decrypt, transmit, retransmit, acquire, intercept, or facilitate the receipt, disruption, decryption, transmission, retransmission, acquisition, or interception of any telecommunications service without the express authority or actual consent of the telecommunications service provider.

    • by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:15AM (#5625499) Homepage Journal
      I still think all the geeks should collect in one state and make their own laws. I like Florida because it has nice beaches, warm weather, nude women, and the majority of it is uninhabited. Any state with few enough current citizens would do though. The only way to stop stupid laws like this is to have a political voice.. and being that we're outnumbered by morons we need to collect in a large enough group in a small enough region of morons so that we can be heard. Having our country controlled by corporate interests and religious fanatics isn't exactly good for our future.
    • Who said "America- land of free" must now be turning in graves.


      "Soon we will be able to harness the rotational energy from Orwell's grave to solve all world energy problems"
      - GigsVT (#208848 [there is no #1, #6])

      This might work on Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson's graves as well.

      But don't worry, the oil companies and their puppet government won't stand for this nonsense for very long. They'll buy & bury the technology soon enough.

  • Defeating Stupidity? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This post about legislation in various states to illegalize using multiple computers on a a 'Net connection without express permission from a service provider sounds like a combination of the mindless anti-piracy drivel we've been reading, and a bit of "legislation-for-sale" by various legislators not so scrupulous about campaign contributions... This really gets my ire, because not only is this technically misguided, it's so obviously legislation to, at a minimum, protect a business model!

    It strikes me th
  • by Highwayman (68808) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @03:55AM (#5625456)
    This is ridiculous. In a broad sense, this would outlaw an PPP connection that assigns an ISP customer a different IP address with every session. Not only that but the nature of such legislation would outlaw virtual domains using Apache and could be applied to the way the Internet has come to work in a limited IP space. I mean, in order to find out who is who on a shared IP web server, you would have to have access to the configuration files.

    With so many domains sharing IP addresses or having IP addresses provided by big companies such as HE there is an amount of obfuscation built in to the DNS system to allow flexibility on the host side. Can't they get busy with spam legislation instead?
    • a brief history: 20 minutes in the future:

      so they(the lawmakers) scream that we should use something like IPV6 which allows enough ips for everyone to have a unique IP. then it becomes law. noone is prepared for this and the internet becomes illegal except for those who can afford to pay for Internet2.

      wow, max headroom was right. we will have to pay heavily for all our knowlege. Damn, and I was getting used to know-w-w-wing things.
  • Telemarketers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Associate (317603) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:07AM (#5625480) Homepage
    Would this apply to telemarketers who conceal their CID information, or 'fake it' with one of those new PBX's?
  • Chill out a bit! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by technos (73414)
    The section y'all are seeing apply to NATs, could very well apply to NATs. However, it applies to more than that, and seems to be subserviant to the whole, IE, detecting people cheating the cable company/telcos.

    This seems to be a roll up to give the cable, telephone, and broadband companies a bit of legal tooth for threatening people stealing cable modem access, DSL access, reprogrammming their cable modems, etc.

    I highly doubt the legislature would push a bill so obviously inspired by the broadband people
  • Lawyer speak!!!

    Someone translate please. I have a tough, difficult, obscenely rough, insanely nasty time and or but not limited to facilitating my tough, difficult, obscenely rough, insanely nasty time, with and hereof my tough, difficult, obscenely rough, insanely nasty time understanding this document which shall henceforth be reffered to as "schlemandering" or "good". Anyone not understanding this document should refer to article 234A sub article 2B, chapter 423 of the referendum of the alliance to ban
  • So, which Michigan State Trooper wants to tromp on to the state capital and confiscate all the computers in the state assembly for violation of the law? Not to mention any telephones with caller ID blocking, and any VOIP equipment that takes calls routed through any area that you don't live in...

    Can't get rid of bad laws unless you start enforcing them rigidly, to the exact letter of the law. Otherwise they just lie there, beneath the surface, ready to waylay the unwary.

    Is it just me, or is posession o
    • Is it just me, or is posession of a computing device going to be just as legally dangerous to the user as posessing a firearm?

      I can just see it now...

      Police officer 1: Watch out men! He's got an iBOOK!
      Police officer 2: My god! The humanity!
      Police officer 3: Shoot him!!! SHOOOOOT HIM!!!
  • So the companies that make firewalls, routers and switches are going to be indicted in MI? I mean, hey - they're the primary enablers here. If they didn't sell routers, people would have a much greater barrier to creating VPNs, thus those companies are really the guilty ones, exploiting the businesses that provide carrier service. Besides, they've much deeper pockets. We're talking Cisco here, after all. Down with them! They're the criminals here, with the role of pimp; the poor people using VPNs are simply
  • by alizard (107678) <alizard&ecis,com> on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:24AM (#5625516) Homepage
    I don't think that any of us who have the misfortune to live in MI will have to volunteer our own asses to test this law.

    An analysis of what comes out of state government and local MI city and township governments via Internet should be adequate to provide conclusive evidence of massive violation of this law.

    I mean, looking at their E-mail, websites, anyone know about VPNs or crypto use by the legislature? While the law only forbids decrypt, encryption isn't a hell of a lot of use without decryption at the other end.

    The problem is forcing action on the complaints. Taxpayer suits? Don't know, I think it's time for input from EFF and/or any telecommunications lawyers reading this thread.

  • by HealYourChurchWebSit (615198) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:29AM (#5625534) Homepage


    Here is an interesting article in The Register [theregister.co.uk] which describes pending legislation in both Massachusetts and Texas are that would extend the DCMA to make devices such as DLS routers and firewalls illegal.

  • by DrSkwid (118965) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:33AM (#5625546) Homepage Journal
    http://www.ntlworld.com/legals/user-policy.htm

    18. Use of Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    As stated above, the ntl Internet and/or Interactive Services are for residential use only and we do not support the use of VPN. If we find you are using VPN via the ntl IP network we may instruct you to stop using it and you must comply with this request. This is in order to prevent problems to ntl (eg network performance) and other Internet u FO.
  • by kubla2000 (218039) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:39AM (#5625562) Homepage

    This is easy for me to write, I'm in Europe so can't participate; however, there have been calls for geeks to politicise, to make their voices heard...

    If every university and college student turned him/her self into the police on Monday morning for being in violation of this new law, the system would choke. It'd get a hell of a lot of media attention too. Something has to be done... these laws, largely unenforceable, continue to be passed... each one errodes the rights of ordinary people...

    I simply can't fathom how a law this monomentally stupid has been passed... but it's got to be challenged. A mass protest would certainly expedite it and might prevent similar laws from being passed in other states where they're being considered.

    • Interesting idea. However, I don't trust the system not to just process whoever they can at whatever rate they can.

      A Canadian citizen of Iranian birth was living in New York. It wasn't widely publicized (enough, apparantly), but all foreign nationals born in Muslim countries were required to register themselves at the police station for fingerprinting, etc, but wasn't sure that he had to, being Canadian, so he stopped in to ask them. Turns out he was two days past the deadline.

      So they put him in shackles,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:48AM (#5625583)
    Here I sit using at least two computers simultaneously for the simple reason that they both do different jobs. In my house there are four devices capable of being connected to my network hub and that in turn connects to the cable modem I have. Given that it is just me using all these at the same time why would it make sense to charge me for each computer? There's just me. Now, if I set up a dial up so that other users can run off my cable then yes that is bad and a law that said I could not resell the service I have bought would be perfectly reasonable, but this is my house, my connection and they are my machines. I pay for a fat(ish) pipe to the outside world. Does the water company charge me more because I have more sinks than my next door neighbour? They may charge me more if I use more water but having more sinks doesn't matter, it is the flow that matters. Same should be true with a network. I am happy to have a capped bandwidth (500Kbs) because I am paying a flat rate for that. However, the four computers I have can't get more data through than one on its own could so what is the problem? What happens if I want to play around with a beowulf cluster? Are they going to outlaw clusters unless you can get some special exemption? You certainly wouldn't want to have to get an IP address for every machine in a big cluster. Oh, and what about the company providing the connection, are they going to ensure that if I have to pay for individual connections for each machine they will still protect me from all the twits who probe my system on a daily basis and do a better job than I can myself with my gateway? This bill is only going to benefit the money grabbing service providers and those idiots who love to try to root machines.

    IMHO of course :-)
    • by HoneyBunchesOfGoats (619017) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:57AM (#5625688)
      ...then the above post makes a great analogy for the uninformed, uncaring politician:
      Does the water company charge me more because I have more sinks than my next door neighbour? They may charge me more if I use more water but having more sinks doesn't matter, it is the flow that matters. Same should be true with a network.
      This kind of simplification is what really appeals to politicians. Makes sure, if you attend a public formum to gauge opinion on such laws, that you say things like this. Is there anything else that should be said in simplified politician-speak? Please list anything and everything you can think of!
  • by ShinmaWa (449201) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:27AM (#5625641)
    Most of you are missing a key phrase in the legislation. The part most people are leaving out is: A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device....

    Now, what is an "unlawful telecommunications access device"? That is answered under 750.219a which is entitled:

    750.219a Obtaining telecommunications services
    with intent to avoid charge; violation; separate incidents pursuant to scheme or course of conduct; enhanced sentence based on prior convictions; definition.


    Section 219 defines an unlawful device as:

    (a) A telecommunications access device without the authority or consent of the subscriber or lawful holder of that telecommunications access device.


    I read this to mean to hijack someone else's "telecommunication device".

    (b) A counterfeit telecommunications access device.


    If you read the section further, this applies to illegal cable descramblers and stuff like that.

    (c) A fraudulent or deceptive scheme, pretense, method, or conspiracy, or any device or other means, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
    (i) Using a false, altered, or stolen identification.
    (ii) The use of a telecommunications access device to violate this section by a person other than the subscriber or lawful holder of the telecommunications access device pursuant to an exchange of anything of value to the subscriber or lawful holder to allow that unlawful use of the telecommunications access device.


    I think we can all agree that FRAUD is bad.

    • by jonabbey (2498) <jonabbey@ganymeta.org> on Sunday March 30, 2003 @06:50AM (#5625768) Homepage

      Except that all a cable operator has to do is declare in their terms and conditions that you may not run NAT and that you may not hook multiple computers up to your network connection without paying a fee for the extra computers. Bada-bing, bada-bam, your NAT hookup is now not just against the T&C's, it's a criminal offense.

      In the specific case of NAT, this law has the effect of permitting cable operators to maintain a cable-tv-like fee plan, rather than simply setting reasonable charge schedules for the actual bits transferred. There's no reason why the law should be molded to enable cable companies to avoid rational pricing according to the nature of the technology at hand.

      The whole point of this is to prevent cable modem users from sharing their internet access over wi-fi and the like with neighbors. That's a laudable goal from the cable companies' view, but it ignores the fact that what really costs the cable company is the number of bits transferred. If I am NAT'ing to a neighbor and my neighbor uses 1% of the Internet bandwidth that is going over my cable modem, the incremental cost of that is 1%. The cost to the cable companies profit, though, is 50% across our two domiciles.

      That's what this law is for, and it's not legitimate.

  • by Andy_R (114137) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @05:41AM (#5625664) Homepage Journal
    1) phone legislator
    2) ask him his exact location
    3) if he tells you, say thanks and hang up. Wait 5 minutes go back to step 1)
    4) if he hangs up without telling you, get him locked up for concealing the destination of the telecommunication.

    Repeat until all the legislators are locked up, then elect some people who are less dumb.
  • Unenforcable (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lkaos (187507) <anthonyNO@SPAMcodemonkey.ws> on Sunday March 30, 2003 @06:21AM (#5625720) Homepage Journal
    Specifically:

    (1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device or assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise a telecommunications device intending to use those devices or to allow the devices to be used to do any of the following or knowing or having reason to know that the devices are intended to be used to do any of the following:

    Establishes that owning, creating, or publishing information on how to create a device that violates any of the following items is a felony. The item in question is:

    (a) Obtain or attempt to obtain a telecommunications service with the intent to avoid or aid or abet or cause another person to avoid any lawful charge for the telecommunications service in violation of section 219a.

    Yet the bill does not put a limit on what telecommunications services are allowed to charge for. Therefore, if you're local ISP decided to charge for say each HTTP request, they could sue Microsoft for Internet Explorer's ability to download an unlimited number of webpages (since it is avoiding any lawful charge for telecommunications service).

    A half-way decent lawyer should have a field day with this bill...
  • by hoggy (10971) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @06:27AM (#5625724) Journal
    I fail to see anything in this amendment that applies to VPNs. It appears to be specifically designed to target phone phreaking. It's all about screwing with telecoms services. VPNs don't do that.

    They don't obtain telecoms services without intent to pay (1a), they don't conceal the origin or destination of the traffic (1b), and they don't intercept, disrupt, re-transmit, or otherwise fuck with your, or anyone else's, service (1c).

    Unless you've deliberately cracked your ISP in order to run your VPN, you've not fallen foul of this law.

    Get some perspective.

    [Interestingly, this does appear to make IP address spoofing illegal - but I consider that to be a good thing.]
  • by JenovaSynthesis (528503) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @09:40AM (#5626085)
    Ok you guys are just being a little to anal retentive with the words.

    First off disguising origin. Anyone with half a brain knows you cannot get a location from an IP address. What they mean by it is IP Spoofing. If I'm a Comcast customer, I can't set my network to trick others into thinking I'm on Verizon, AOL/TW's, etc. If I am a Comcast customer, then I cannot disguise my IP to say otherwise. If the law needs my physical location, they can go through the legal channels and get it from Comcast.

    CID blocking is iffy. I do not think this wouild be affected as it would force SBC and such to discontinue services like Privacy Manager. Second the biggest concern is telemarketing. The FCC is setting up the National Do Not Call list in July with enforcement in September. Why worry?

    VPNs would be legal at this point because a) No state legislature is going to tell a corporation (Borders, the big 3 auto makers come to mind) that they can no longer use thier legit VPNs. And if they go after legit personal VPNs, one could claim discrimination based on that. Now if your ISP bans VPNs (which is thier right) then this law is moot anyways. b) Comcast et al do not ban VPNs to my knowledge nor do they ban use of NAT. I bet they love NAT because instead of charging you $10-15 for more IPs, they can charge you and others $40/mo for other individuals. Last I heard, Comcast only cares about multiple computers if they are hogging bandwidth or if non-customers are getting regular access (meaning sharing with neighbors via 802.11, etc.)

    Can you think of any modern applications that this law is really targeting? Cell phone cloning and cable descramblers come to mind fast.
  • by eyeball (17206) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @12:00PM (#5626581) Journal
    (1) A person shall not assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise an unlawful telecommunications access device or assemble, develop, manufacture, possess, deliver, offer to deliver, or advertise a telecommunications device intending to use those devices or to allow the devices to be used to do any of the following or knowing or having reason to know that the devices are intended to be used to do any of the following:


    Umm, doesn't this apply to the company manufacturing NAT and similar devices, rather than common citizens? If that's the case, Michigan would need to drag Linksys, Cisco, CompUSA, Circuit City, and about 10,000 other manufacturers and distributors into court.
  • by KC7GR (473279) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @12:32PM (#5626714) Homepage Journal
    As I read it, and as others have pointed out, the new law makes an instant criminal out of (probably) 95%+ of the DSL and cable DSU users in the affected state. Anyone who uses a NAT-capable device (myself included) could be in a most uncomfortable position due to crap like this.

    That's the bad news. The good news is that, given the sheer volume of people that already have NAT-type hookups, I don't see how this can possibly be effectively enforced. Even if the affected states try to make an example out of a few folks, it'll probably get appealed until doomsday.

    I predict widespread 'civil disobedience' at first, followed by an effective court challenge that will overturn such legislative lunacy.

  • Anti WiFi? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SiliconEntity (448450) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @01:15PM (#5626910)
    Security expert Steve Bellovin writes [mail-archive.com] that he thinks this bill is intended by ISPs to fight off WiFi hotspots.

    There has been a controversy in the WiFi arena about whether commercial WiFi services will take off or whether free access via "warchalking" etc is going to make it impossible to make a profit from commercial wireless access. Mostly it is the ISPs who are operating these commercial services (in partnerships with some national companies that set up the technology). And these same ISPs have anti-sharing clauses in their end-user contracts that are widely ignored.

    This Michigan law, like the others that have been proposed, would make it arguably illegal to operate a free, public wireless access point without permission from your ISP. And if your ISP is trying to sell commercial wireless that you'd be competing with, you certainly won't get permission.

    This law puts teeth in that prohibition. It could doom free wireless. A very big deal indeed.
  • So that normal mortals can understand this cobbled-together snobby elitist English, I've translated it from newspeak to English. It is unfortunate that politicians writing these laws do not see the need to make them understandable to those who need to obey them.

    Devices covered under this bill are devices intended to:

    1. Obtain a telecommunications service without paying for it.
    2. Conceal the existence, origin, or destination of any telecommunications service.
    3. Do anything with a telecommunications service without the consent of the service provider.
    4. Hijack a subscriber's telecom access device without his/her consent.
    5. Counterfeit telecommunications (e.g., cable descramblers).
    6. A fraudulent or deceptive scheme, pretense, method, or conspiracy, or any device or other means; e.g.:
      1. Using a fraudulent identification.
      2. The use of a telecom access device to violate this section by a non-subscriber to exchange anything of value to the subscriber to allow that unlawful use of the telecommunications access device.
    What the bill criminalizes:
    1. The assembly, development, manufacturing, possession, delivering, offer of delivery, or advertisement of the aforementioned devices.
    2. The modification of a device to make it an aforementioned device.
    3. The delivery, offer of delivery, or advertisement of plans, instructions, or materials for the manufacture, assembly, or development of the aforementioned devices.
    Criminal penalties for violating this bill:
    1. Up to 4 years of imprisonment.
    2. A fine of up to $2,000.
    3. Both 1 & 2.
    4. The violator must forfeit the device and receive no compensation.
    5. The violator must pay restitution.
    Important notes:
    1. Violation of this bill is a felony.
    2. Each aforementioned device constitutes a separate violation. In other words, a person may be sentenced an additional 4 years and $2,000 for each aforementioned device (s)he owns.
    3. This bill does not affect amateur services licensed by the FCC.
    Definitions:
    1. Telecommunications (service provider) -- any service lawfully provided for compensation to facilitate the origination, transmission, retransmission, emission, or reception of intelligible information over a telecommunications system
    2. Telecommunications access device -- basically, anything which can access, utilize, manipulate, etc a telecom system.
    3. Telecommunications system -- any system, network, or facility owned or operated by a telecommunications service provider
    Those are all defined in section 219a of Michigan's Penal Code. I went to Michican's home-page, and searched for 219a. Unfortunately, only the proposed wording of the bill was offered, and the final bill's language was not. So I had to go to LexisNexis. What a scam to privitive public information. So, this bill covers internet services, telephone services, TV-services, satellite services, an so on and so forth. Since it covers retransmission, it would criminalize the use of WiFi, creating an anti-social community (as RMS says), where helping your neighbor is frowned upon. Even though you are presumably paying for 24-7 full-time use of your broadband, you aren't permitted to use it 24-7 if that means letting other people access your system and use it. Furthermore, you could get up to 4 years in jail for this. Child molesters sometimes don't get 4 years in jail. Additionally, each subsequent violation (e.g., device owned) would get you an additional 4 years if the judge decided that you were to serve the sentences consecutively. This may also criminalize such things as TiVo, since they effectively re-transmit (time-shifting) programmed scheduling to the user at a later time, removing commercials, and do not have the TSP's approval.
  • by unitron (5733) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @04:38PM (#5627916) Homepage Journal
    "(b) Conceal the existence or place of origin or destination of any telecommunications service."

    So if a telemarketer keeps their number from showing up on your CallerID screen you can have them arrested as a terrorist. Cool.

  • by herbierobinson (183222) on Sunday March 30, 2003 @08:18PM (#5628830) Homepage
    This is going to make a number of RFC's illegal...

    How entertaining.

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